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Toto Blanke - Spider's Dance CD (album) cover


Toto Blanke


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.88 | 7 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars The side project of German guitarist Hans Otto Blanke when not working with Jasper Van't Hof or with Pierre Courbois' ASSOCIATION P.C. This album finds the European virtuosi playing with Philadelphia expats John Lee (bass) and Gerry Brown (drums).

1. "Lady's Bicycle Seat Smeller" (7:00) sounds very much like RETURN TO FOREVER (in no small part due to Gerry Brown's pre-RTF drumming). The drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar play are so closely fitted to the RTF style, it is only the presence of Carmin Ugo Mariano's flute and Joachim Kühn's more Herbie Hancock-like keyboard playing style. (13.5/15)

2. "Intermission" (6:58) another song styled very closely after some of RETURN TO FOREVER's more quirky and dynamic constructs, this time with keyboard player Joachim Kühn's stylings sounding more akin to those of Chick Corea. (13.75/15)

3. "Rocbaron" (2:45) a Django Rhinehardt-styled acoustic guitar song solo by Toto definitely takes on a non-Django sound and style (and more Al Di Meola- and acoustic John McLaughlin sound) as it goes on. Excellent virtuoso guitar play! (9.75/10)

4. "Toto" (6:22) opens with two concurrently played tracks of Toto's electric guitar(s) playing wah-wah-ed arpeggi, soon along with John Lee's bass and Gerry's syncopated drums. Very cool! (Very "Discipline" like!) At 1:08 the hypnotic weave is broken by a crash into a slower procession of chunky-funky effected-bass, syncopated almost-military drums, and electric guitar arpeggi with Fender Rhodes electric piano support. (I hear no saxes or flutes.) The guitar soloing in the fourth minute reminds me very much of Larry CORYELL while Gerry Brown's drumming is like a mirror copy of the style and sounds of Lenny WHITE! In the fifth and sixth minutes the guitars return to two tracks weaving opposite one another, eventually speeding up to signal the band's transition into decay and finish. I really love this song--from multiple perspectives--maybe the drumming the most! (9.5/10)

5. "Spider's Dance" (4:33) a protracted Mahavishnu-like progression of chords from guitar and bass while Joachim's clavinet and Gerry's drums sky rocket all over the place beneath and around the plodding oddly-time-signatured stringed rhythm section. Charlie Mariano's flutes and saxes as well as another track devoted to Toto's lead guitar carry the smooth melody line to the song's conclusion. Quite exciting and noteworthy. (9.33333/10)

6. "Prelude" (0:58) strumming acoustic guitar receives some flange treatment. (4.5/5)

7. "Slight Touch Of Hepatitis" (14:28) using a sparse and rather spacious rhythm section from the bass à la Bitches Brew and the early Mwandishi albums, drummer Gerry Brown is free to explore wherever Spirit guides him as Charlie Mariano and Joachim Kühn go wild and crazy over the top--for the first five plus minutes, that is. Toward the fifth and sixth minutes John Lee's bass begins to become quite adventurous and interesting while Toto Blanke's lead guitar and Joachim's wah-wah-ed Fender Rhodes become increasingly angular, key-bending, and at times outright dissonant. The band reigns it in and thins out in the eleventh minute to allow for some pure Fender Rhodes solo time (though John Lee's very active bass is still unavoidably noticeable just beneath). Gerry's drumming is solid and fluid but feels, compared to the creative freedoms he was given in previous songs, more constrained and liming. I'm sure this was a very cerebral and liberating song to perform--and the performances are certainly impressive for their virtuosic creativity--but my puny little brain happens to prefer the melodic commitments of the previous songs. (27/30)

Total Time 43:04

Quite an excellent and creative album despite the obvious emulation and inspiration from Chick (and Herbie), Stanley, Al (and Larry), and Lenny. Evenso, these musicians are all at the top of their games--given further freedom and expressive boosts by wah-wah pedals and multiple track recording.

A-/five stars; a remarkable masterpiece of high-powered Jazz-Rock Fusion--one that every prog lover and J-R Fuse lover should experience! Four of these musicians should be household names on the tips of everybody's tongues.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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